A 35-year-old Detroit man who spent 15 years in prison for rape and other crimes he did not commit was on Wednesday exonerated. According to The Detroit News, Terance Calhoun could have been released from prison days earlier.
But his exoneration hearing last week was unexpectedly postponed after a Detroit police officer approached the judge to inform her that Calhoun had confessed to the crimes. The officer also gave the judge documents. The unidentified cop’s actions were widely condemned by Calhoun’s attorneys and law enforcement officials.
Calhoun was ultimately released five days later. In a statement, the deputy chief of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and head of its Conviction Integrity Unit, Val Newman, said “there were a myriad of things that went wrong that caused the wrongful conviction of an innocent man.”
Prosecutors partly concluded Calhoun was innocent of the charges brought against him as no traces of his DNA were found at the crime scene. And they were set to ask for his release last Friday before Wayne County Circuit Judge Kelly Ramsey postponed the hearing.
Calhoun was sentenced to prison in 2007 after he was found guilty of raping and kidnapping a 13-year-old girl and also trying to kidnap another 15-year-old girl. Both alleged crimes were committed in October 2006 and September 2006 respectively. The teenage victims identified Calhoun as the perpetrator in different lineups.
But Newman said Calhoun shouldn’t have been implicated as DNA testing in 2007 cleared the 35-year-old. Newman added that Calhoun did not match the 13-year-old victim’s description of the suspect. Calhoun was also not informed that no traces of his DNA were found in a condom that was used to rape the youngest teen. Newman said the 15-year-old victim told investigators the suspect who attacked her had braided hair and a puzzle tattoo, but Calhoun doesn’t have any, The Detroit News reported. Newman said a lot of things in the exonerated man’s case were “missed along the way.”
David Williams, who is one of Calhoun’s attorneys, also told the news outlet that a second DNA test that was done in 2019 corroborated the 2007 results. And though it was confirmed Calhoun’s conviction wasn’t linked to the 2009 discovery of over 11,000 abandoned untested rape kits at a Detroit Police Department warehouse, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the discovery allowed officials to analyze evidence in his case.
“However, important Sexual Assault Kit Task Force protocols for reviewing criminal sexual conduct cases, implemented after the SAKs were discovered in 2009, allowed the CIU to consult with them to evaluate significant evidence in Mr. Calhoun’s case,” Worthy said. “This evidence disproved that he committed the two crimes. We are currently prosecuting the defendant who is alleged to be the perpetrator of criminal sexual conduct crimes.”
Worthy, however, did not provide details on the person suspected of assaulting the two girls. “A series of fortunate events and a lot of very hard work by quite a few people led to my decision to exonerate Mr. Calhoun,” Worthy said. “The decision in this case was the culmination of years of long work on this and unrelated cases.”